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05.03.2008 22:30

Barça save the average (62-61)

Sònia de Alba

AXA Barça maintained the points average over Unicaja in Malaga but a last gasp basket from Carlos Cabezas gave Unicaja the win (62-61).

Unicaja is alive and well in the Euroleague. The team coached by Sergio Scariolo managed to save themselves from a defeat against AXA Barça, who in turn lost the chance to take a big step towards the quarterfinals. A basket from Carlos Cabezas, back from a month-long injury layout, gave Malaga the win. However, despite the defeat, Barça have kept the points advantage thanks to their 64-62 win in the Palau.

Shaky start

A nervy and error-strewn start from both teams marked the rest of the game. Pepe Sánchez took his place in the starting five after Jaka Lakovic struggled all week with the injury he picked up against Akasvayu last Sunday. However, the Slovenian soon came on to help Barça finish the first quarter with an 11-15 lead.

Second quarter begins badly

Barça’s lead dwindled at the beginning of the second quarter as Unicaja’s Germán Gabriel led his team to a 6-0 partial score. Barça coach Xavi Pascual called time out with the scoreboard at 22-20.

Ersan Ilyasova was active on the rebound and worked hard to control Gabriel. Meanwhile, Pepe Sánchez and Mario Kasun both scored and turned the score once again in Barça’s favour. However, Unicaja took advantage of the tense atmosphere to reach the break two points ahead (34-32).

Unicaja get into gear

Senegal international Boniface Ndong broke Barça’s domination of the rebound after the break. The third quarter showed the influence Ndong might have on the final result but it was in the final quarter that he really made a decisive impact.

The scores stayed level during the third quarter but the personal fouls tipped the situation in Unicaja’s favour.

Barça fight back

The third quarter ended with the scores standing at 48-47 and the result was still wide open. Unicaja took a five-point lead – the biggest for either team throughout the game – when Davor Kus punished Barça from the 6.25m line (57-52).

Jaka Lakovic then sank a three-pointer to reduce the gap to 58-57. Lakovic pulled Barça to ahead by one point (60-61) with Barça first free throws of the game, but with just over 12 seconds left Unicaja had possession. Cabezas took the responsibility and scored the decisive points (62-61).

Grimau tried a desperate throw with less than a second to go but without luck.

This is AXA Barça’s second defeat inn the Top 16 (two wins and two defeats) but they have a favourable average over Unicaja.
Photos: Euroleague.net
Photos: Euroleague.net

Rodríguez (2), Jiménez (2), Haislip (7), Santiago (11), Castle (3) – starting five – Popovic (-), Kus (15), Welsch (4), Cabezas (2), Ndong (9), Gabriel (7)

Basile (8), Sánchez (7), Vázquez (2), Acker (4), Kasun (6) – starting five – Trias (4), Marconato (-), Lakovic (15), Neal (-), Ilyasova (7), Moncasi (-), Grimau (7)

Scores by quarter: 11-15; 23-17; 14-15; 14-15

Referees: Zavlanos, Belosevi and Rhyzik

Click here to access the official game statistics.

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